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Nitric oxide (NO) donating drugs such as organic nitrates have been used to treat cardiovascular diseases for more than a century. These donors primarily produce NO systemically. It is however sometimes desirable to control the amount, location, and time of NO delivery. We present the design of a novel pH-sensitive NO release system that is achieved by the synthesis of dipeptide diphenylalanine (FF) and graphene oxide (GO) co-assembled hybrid nanosheets (termed as FF@GO) through weak molecular interactions. These hybrid nanosheets are characterised by using X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, zeta potential measurements, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopies. The weak molecular interactions, which include electrostatic, hydrogen bonding and π-π stacking, are pH sensitive due to the presence of carboxylic acid and amine functionalities on GO and the dipeptide building blocks. Herein, we demonstrate that this formulation can be loaded with NO gas with the dipeptide acting as an arresting agent to inhibit NO burst release at neutral pH; however, at acidic pH it is capable of releasing NO at the rate of up to 0.6 μM per minute, comparable to the amount of NO produced by healthy endothelium. In conclusion, the innovative conjugation of dipeptide with graphene can store and release NO gas under physiologically relevant concentrations in a pH-responsive manner. pH responsive NO-releasing organic-inorganic nanohybrids may prove useful for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and other pathologies.

Original publication




Journal article


Nitric oxide

Publication Date



cardiovascular disease, co-assembly, dipeptides, graphene oxide, nanohybrids, nitric oxide release, pH responsiveness